High Standards for Teachers

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On February 15, teacher prep's accrediting body, CAEP, issued a draft of its new standards for comment. We were very excited to see that the bar was raised on teacher prep admissions. Michael Maher, Assistant Dean for Professional Education and Accreditation at North Carolina State University, shares his response. 

Many of us in teacher preparation programs also applaud CAEP for setting a high bar with regard to the selectivity standards. Nearly everyone agrees that we need to recruit high caliber students so that our "best and brightest" become teachers, much like in the high performing nations of Finland or Singapore. As someone tasked with oversight of a teacher preparation program, not to mention as a parent of two daughters in elementary school, I think it is imperative that we staff our schools with high quality teachers.

Raising the bar for teacher prep admissions raises the bar for entry into the teaching profession. This is a step we should take. And in order to make this work, we must do this without loopholes.

In North Carolina, we address teacher shortage areas in part by attracting second-career professionals (often called lateral entrants), who require alternative licensure. I frequently hear calls to "remove the barriers" to the classroom for these individuals. While we certainly don't want repetitive coursework getting in the way, we must not confuse this with the standards we hold for entering the teaching profession. Currently, to become a lateral entry teacher, one only needs to have a bachelor's degree in an appropriate discipline with a 2.50 cumulative GPA. This is a lower bar than CAEP is setting, a lower bar than the AFT is suggesting, a lower bar than high-performing nations set, and it is too low a bar for our profession. 

By all means, yes, let's raise the bar for entry into teacher preparation programs. And let's do it right by making sure that we are truly raising the bar for entry into the classroom.